Extra train capacity boost for South West underway

March 26th 2018

Adding to a fleet of new Intercity Express Trains due into service this Summer, GWR has today announced a scheme to modernise High Speed Trains (HSTs) to provide even more additional seats and services.

Work is already underway to convert former eight carriage HSTs (8+2) to four carriage (4+2) Class 43 Castle trains, to operate services between Exeter and Penzance, which will help double the frequency of services on the Cornish main line.

The work will see the sets made more accessible and modernised; decade old slam doors will be replaced with modern, automated, sliding doors; toilet retention tanks fitted and an improved passenger information system fitted.

GWR Commercial Development Director Matthew Golton said:

“These trains will replace smaller, less powerful trains on this part of the network; doubling the number of seats as part of our commitment to improving rolling stock across every part of our network.

“They will work alongside the new Intercity Express Trains due this summer; helping us to double the frequency of services to and from the South West and improve capacity on suburban commuter services.”

48 passenger carriages and 24 power cars are being updated, to make 11 sets, with four spare, as part of a wider national programme to modernise the High Speed Train.

Councillor Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Transport:

“This is a fantastic time for rail in Cornwall and the arrival of these trains marks another milestone in efforts to transform services on the Cornish mainline. Later this year, these new short form HSTs provide our local rail service – trains leaving Penzance for Plymouth every 30 minutes and stopping at stations along the way.

“As a Council, we have been working with our partners at GWR, Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership to bring about changes in infrastructure and rolling stock, changes which will benefit residents, commuters, visitors, the economy and our environment.”

The completed first train set is currently being tested in the south west and is expected to provide an Exeter to Penzance shuttle later this week, more than doubling the number of seats per train. (139 generic in 2 car 150 v 316 in a coach A to D HST).

With all modifications complete, the trains will also be extended to serve the route from Penzance to Cardiff, and to bolster peak time services between Gloucester and Taunton.

The Class 43 Castle trains will be maintained at GWRs depot at Laira, Plymouth.

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